Battle Royale by Koushun TakamiRead about the other entries on the list.
I had no idea what the book by Koushun Takami was about when I first picked it up. I knew there was a movie based on the book and it was a bestseller in Japan. But when a group of classmates in junior high are subjected to sleeping gas and wake up, only to be informed they’ll be taking place in a deathmatch against each other, I was stunned. Metal collars are placed around their necks that will explode if they try to escape, and they’re each given a weapon ranging from guns to worthless items like a fork. Some embrace the violence, like Kazuo Kiriyama who is a sociopath and relishes his chance to take part in the games. Others try to resist, only to be mercilessly slaughtered. I was both enthralled and repulsed, unable to put the book down but wishing it wasn’t disturbing me so much (the extreme violence resulted in the book being condemned by the Japanese National Diet).
What’s most chilling is how they start to turn on one another and how that forces you to wonder what you would do in their shoes. Morality is turned upside down and the social commentary is disturbing as you realize everything is being broadcast for the public. It’s as though The Purge were vicariously mixed with something on E!, audiences chowing on sponsored popcorn and soda as analysts commented on the brutality and effectiveness of each killing.
(Note: As much as I enjoyed Running Man and The Hunger Games, I’m leaving them off this list because of the similarities they share with Battle Royale).